Have I mentioned that I like Daniel? Have I mentioned that there are few, if any Bible characters, who are as pure and exemplary as this man? We cannot go wrong in studying him four or five times throughout each of our children’s lives. We cannot go wrong in studying him for ourselves, over and over again. One of our men came to me a couple weeks ago, asking me if there were any other major Bible character of whom it could be said that we don’t have any of their sins described. His only suggestion was Joseph, whose life in many ways runs parallel to Daniel’s life. Joseph is the first person who comes to my mind in answering that question. But there were some things early in Joseph’s life, which might have been sinful. For example, was there any pride in the approach that he had toward his brothers? It’s hard to say. But getting back to Daniel – we can’t go wrong in trying to emulate him.

When Darius became king of Babylon, he made Daniel one of the 3 presidents over all 120 provinces. Some commentaries interpret verse 3 as suggesting that Darius was considering replacing the three presidents with Daniel alone. Listen to verse 3 once again and decide for yourself – “Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” Whether that was actually the plan or not, the rest of the presidents and many of the princes hated Daniel and wanted him removed. Since this saint of God could not be charged with any crimes against the state, his enemies devised a way to use his godly devotions against him. They came to Darius in numbers and with excitement, enticing the king to glorify himself with a new law. “All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.” These wicked men presented their case so enthusiastically and skilfully that the foolish king signed it. By irrevocable royal decree, no one could pray to any god or man for thirty days. All requests had to be presented to Darius.

On the day that the edict was to be put in force, Daniel got up in the morning and had his daily devotions as he always had “aforetime.” Then at some point during the day, he again spent time with the Lord. Then again later he went home, opening his window toward Jerusalem, praying and praising God for His goodness, His holiness and His blessings. It appears to me that Daniel’s enemies made sure that the noose was tight about his neck before they pulled on it. They waited until they could say that Daniel continued to make his petitions to the Lord, three times a day. Then they arrested their quarry and brought him into the king’s throne room, declaring him to be guilty. The king was furious when he heard these words – furious with himself. Darius did all that he could think of to deliver Daniel from their grasp, but it was no use. That night, before he went to bed, the king was forced to oversee the execution of his best employee.

My question for this evening is this: Why did Darius work so hard to rescue Daniel? The king gave Daniel one of the highest compliments possible when he worked for several hours trying to convince these wicked men to release him. Once again, what is there in Daniel here which should be found in us? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if important unbelievers thought as highly of all God’s saints as Darius thought of Daniel?

Daniel was an asset to the king and the kingdom.
I know that a lot of Christians don’t want to consider this, but consider it they should. Part of Daniel’s amiable character was that we don’t hear him groaning and complaining. Far more that most of us, that man had good reason to moan and groan, murmur and mutter. Daniel was a saint of God under a government far worse than yours and mine. I can’t say that he didn’t pass around Darius jokes, and grouse about whether or not he was constitutionally fit to be king, but if he did we are not told about it. He wasn’t signing petitions urging the presidents and princes to impeach Darius. He lived in a society which basically forced him to be apolitical. There was no room, or means, for any constitutional appeal of any royal law or decree. I suppose that if any citizen of Babylon even tried to criticize Darius they would have been executed. In fact, I don’t know that the word “citizen” is even a proper word to use when speaking about the people living under the Medes and the Persians.

Yet, under these circumstances, Daniel, the saint, was a model “citizen.” In fact, he was a model citizen because he was a saint of God. For example, it was a part of his faith that he be diligent about his responsibilities. He knew the writings of his former king – Solomon. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Daniel was also a prophet enough to know the sort of thing that Paul would eventually write. Romans 12 fits so snugly in Daniel’s life that those two men could have been brothers. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Perhaps one of Daniel’s life scriptures could have been found in Ephesians 5 – “Servants” (that is what Daniel was), “Servants obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

Darius fought for the life of Daniel, because that man was perhaps the best servant and citizen in the country.

Also, by this time Darius knew that Daniel was a victim of a conspiracy.
The presidents and princes had thoroughly covered their intentions when they first brought their petition. But now that it was a law of the Medes and Persians, he could see it’s specific intention – Daniel. How many leonine execution dens were there throughout the kingdom? I would imagine that such a thing was quite expensive to develop and maintain. And I have no reason for saying so, but I would guess that this was the only such lions den in the area. Probably it was a part of the Babylonian Garden’s compound – a private zoo. I also seriously doubt that anyone had yet to be executed by lion under this law. Darius, at first, probably considered it nothing but hot air and show. But now it is coming down to whether this man lives or dies. The king was undoubtedly smart enough now to understand the intention of the decree. He was fighting for the life of Daniel, because this was an unjust law – he was a victim of a conspiracy.

And his defense was even more intense because that he knew that he had been duped and forced to become a part of the plot. The scripture tells us that Darius was “sore displeased with himself.” He was furious. And we know that his fury spilled over onto the wicked men who conspired against Daniel, because… “The king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.”

Is there a lesson here about taking steps to correct the mistakes that we make? In comparing this incident with things in my own life, I would guess that Darius never forgot any of this. I would guess that until his dying day, there were occasions when his mind rolled back to that day when he was tricked into signing this royal decree. There are occasions when there is a quiet groan which pours out of my heart as I recall some stupid thing that I have done. And this may have been the most stupid thing that this king had ever done. When it is possible to fix our stupid mistakes we are obligated to take the steps to do so. Sometimes that involves shame and her daughter humility. Kings don’t particularly like humility – they don’t enjoy admitting to their errors. But we don’t have to be kings to hate this necessary duty.

Darius may have fought for Daniel’s life because he was the guilty person, not Daniel. He struggled to deliver Daniel because that was somewhat easier than admitting his own mistakes. Both Daniel and Darius were victims of a conspiracy.

And Darius might have struggled on behalf of Daniel, because God’s saint had been in prayer about this.
Daniel knew that the writing had been signed. He knew that he would still be going home to spend significant time in prayer to the Lord. He probably realized that this was an hate-filled attempt to have him executed. And undoubtedly Daniel prayed about all of this.

There is nothing wrong in praying about our problems, our lives, our illnesses and our trials. Until such time as the Lord tells us to stop, we have every encouragement to continue. So I imagine that Daniel asked the Lord to somehow intervene in this situation. “Lord, if it be your will, may it be that no one really cares whether or not I spend this time with you. If it be your will, may no one ever come in upon me when I am on my knees before you. But, Lord, if I am arrested for my faithfulness to you, may my execution be swift and easy.” Perhaps a part of Darius’ desire to fight for Daniel’s freedom, was due to a impluse which the Lord put into his heart in answer to Daniel’s prayers.

Do you recall that there was a similar situation which came up under one of these same kings?

Darius had a possible means of extraditing Daniel from this dilemma.
Ahasuerus was one of the later kings of the Median empire. One of his underlings was a man named Haman, and Haman hated God’s saint Mordecai. He convinced his king that the Jews were wicked rebels, and that they should be exterminated. One of those unalterable laws of the Medes and Persians was signed, and it looked as though Satan was about to break the lineage to the Lord Jesus Christ. Summarizing what we see in the Book of Esther, we learn there that Haman’s plot was revealed. Even though the first law about the Jew’s destruction could not be overturned, another law was signed which declared that everyone who had intended to kill God’s people could be executed prior to the execution of the first law. With the blessing of the king, there was a great slaughter of enemies of the Lord. I can’t say whether this sort of thing could have been accomplished in Daniel’s case, but it might have come up for consideration.

And in any case, it didn’t matter. The Lord has a thousand ways to deliver His saints, when it is his will to do so. Sahalie’s first Sunday School memory verse was – “Trust in the Lord.” That is what Mordecai did, and that was what Daniel did. In both cases the faith of God’s men were proven to be worth while.

Our greatest defense against President Obama, as it was with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and a host of others, is to trust and serve God. The Lord will deliver us in the fashion that He chooses. And it might that this evening all of God’s saints are translated out of this wicked world.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the wicked of this world thought so highly of God’s saints that we were sincerely missed after the translation? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even the unbeliever thought highly enough of us that they stayed up half the night looking for ways to defend us? We need to be more like Daniel.